Somali pirates face US prosecution in murder trial

Updated:

NORFOLK, Va. - Three pirates accused of killing a Seattle couple on board a yacht near Somalia will face prosecution in the United States.



The Somalis are accused of killing Seattle residents Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay in 2011 about 40 miles off the coast of Somalia.



A federal judge in Virginia refused to dismiss the murder charges on Monday.



Riggle and Macay were on board the yacht "Quest" with two other Americans when it was allegedly taken over by pirates as the group traveled between Mumbai and the Red Sea.



The band of pirates are accused of taking the Americans hostage in hopes of ransoming them for millions of dollars once they got back to Somalia. The alleged plan fell through when the pirates were confronted by a U.S. Navy warship.



All four hostages were shot and killed as the U.S. Navy ship closed.



The judge ruled the killings occurred in international waters, outside Somalia's control.



A jury trial for the men is scheduled to begin in June. If convicted, prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.



Twelve other men connected with the case have already pleaded guilty or been found guilty of piracy and sentenced to life in prison.